Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Work from home -- in another country! And: clergy exchanges

This is just a section of something I'm working on that doesn't have much to do with Egeria. It's just further evidence of my bird obsession. I'm not even really into birds much outside of an artistic context, but I gravitate to them when I'm designing something. Something about the way they carve up the space is very pleasing, in a similar way to flowers. This is obviously cut paper. The real thing is about five or six feet high (why don't I know!?)and will be crisscrossed with ribbons of calligraphy. Yes, I am an Arts and Crafts fiend too.

Anyway, I had another thought about Orthodox home exchange. Well, this applies to home exchange generally, really. Increasingly, people are able to work from home and send stuff in/conference call to work. So here's the thing. What about going to another country for, say, three months, working from your 'home from home', and absorbing another culture and language in your off hours? Ordinarily you couldn't consider such a thing because the hotel bill would pretty much kill you dead, but with home exchange there is no hotel bill. If you are able to be away, and your host is able to be away, for that long, then Bob's your uncle.

Another thing is that I was listening to a wonderful series of podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio by my new e-friend Susan and her husband Fr Gabriel called Musing on Mission. It chronicles, quite literally, their mission plant (in New Mexico) pretty much from day 1. There is a lot to relate to for me in this, since that is what my husband and I did exactly six years ago this month (this being Aug 2008), but since I am ramping up this Egeria business one thing really popped out for me in one of the podcasts. Fr Gabriel mentioned the pressure and anxiety for the mission priest (I am paraphrasing) knowing that if he has to be away there is no one to keep things going, that there is a gap while people have no teaching and no services.
Well, that is one thing that Egeria can address! Clergy who need to get away can exchange with other clergy who need the same, and experience the freshness of a different parish, maybe even a radically different type of parish! It would be an opportunity for the folks in a mission to hear another voice, yet one in solidarity with their regular mission priest. It is reassuring for new converts in an isolated area to have someone come from far away and say roughly the same things their priest says -- thus showing that he is not some kook/renegade/potential cult leader, and that he really is plugged in, and they through him, into the conciliar and universal, one holy catholic and apostolic Church. This can especially be valuable where people have little or no opportunity to travel themselves.

So thinking about that leads me to another idea for the site. We can set it up so that a priest will be able to put a 'clergy exchange' symbol to indicate that you would be interested in swapping with another clergy family or individual for the chance to experience and help out another parish and walk a mile in another priest's shoes. This can even work for priests' holidays -- it solves the problem of how to find a substitute, and since the travellers need to be somewhere for Liturgy anyway (riiiiiight? we don't take holidays from God, riiiiiight?) he might as well be filling in for a brother priest. Am I making sense? Right, since I'm not sure, I'm going to sign off and get some shut eye. . .soon.
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Julia said...

That's a brilliant idea Jenny. I would love to exchange homes with someone somewhere for a few months to experience a new place, esp since Jeff and I both do (some) work from home. I guess the only problem is that no one would really care much to come to the middle of Indiana (unless maybe they were crazy Notre Dame football fans and could come during football season...hmm.)

Anonymous said...

Jenny, my new friend! This is so exciting! It is exactly what FG and I could do! Maybe we can get people in Greece or Ukraine or Russia or elsewhere to participate! What an inspiration! The possibilities are endless. My sister and her husband have done home exchanges twice through the Fulbright Exchange program, once to England and once to Newfoundland. My bro-in-law is a teacher (now superintendent) They had great experiences. With a little research you could easily find out hints, i.e. put househould items that you treasure away (they had little kids at the time), have people lined up to do introductions to the area etc.

It is about time that I got in on the podcasts. It was originally my idea and I approached John, from AF at a Lutheran/Orthodox conference we went to last September in Michigan. We went there our our drive West to New Mexico from Pennsylvania. FG presented a paper/talk there. Ancient Faith recorded everything. Delighful enthusiastic people, John and his wife.

Go For It!

Blessings, Susan in New Mexico

Jenny Hainsworth said...

Hey Julia, thanks for the comment!
The thing is, you never know why someone might want to visit your town. They might have family there, or research to do, or might just want to experience something completely different. Right now I have a friend from Romania, who is studying in Victoria but needs to do research at Princeton. If only Egeria existed last year, he probably would have found a place to stay already!
You should give it a try -- we will make sure our members don't get charged to renew their memberships until they have made a successful exchange. Cheerio!